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Defunctland: The Failure of Hong Kong Disneyland

Robbiem

Well-Known Member
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Great video I think the tragedy of Hong Kong was that it could and still can be one of the most special Disneyland resorts but mismanagement has continued to get in the way. Its a pity Disney havent bought out hong kong international theme parks and taken full control, finally building the area out into a true resort destination
 

D231016

Member
It sucks that right when HKDL started making money, Disney opened their park in Shanghai. This resulted in HKDL losing a majority of their mainland China guests and the park hasn’t made a profit since.
Actually it has more to do with the 2014 Umbrella Revolution (or Occupy Central protest) , which turned away tons of mainland tourists for HK as a whole.
 

PorterRedkey

Well-Known Member
Actually it has more to do with the 2014 Umbrella Revolution (or Occupy Central protest) , which turned away tons of mainland tourists for HK as a whole.
HKDL was increasingly profitable in 2013, 14 and 15. When the Shanghai park opened in 2016, HKDL lost money.

Disney originally planned for 2/3rds of HKDL’s attendance to come from mainland China. If even half of the Chinese people who would have gone to HKDL visit Shanghai instead, HKDL loses 1/3rd of its guests.

I’m not saying the Umbella Revolution has no effect, but the park has weathered several regional issues throughout the years (the worst being SARS) and continued to grow.
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Nice documentary.

I like the What Ifs and Woulda, Couldas of theme parks, so a part of HKDL history that interests me is the 1999 Press Release which described a much more filled-out park than what was built:

  • Main Street USA Concept - Main Street USA serves as the dramatic entryway to the park. Here guests will immediately take a step back in time to Main Street USA which will capture the excitement, friendliness and energy of a community gathering place. Designed after an old-fashioned small town, Main Street includes shops and restaurants and serves as the stage for live entertainment and parades as well as special events celebrating the local culture.
  • Fantasyland Concept - Fantasyland is the magical home of Disney animated characters and stories. Here guests can fly to Neverland with Peter Pan [the classic ride], take a spin in a teacup, play in the undersea world with the Little Mermaid[the suspended darkride pre-viz'd on youtube], and even climb aboard colorfully decorated horses on an old fashioned carousel.
  • Toontown Concept - Toontown is a wacky upside-down world where the beloved Disney characters live and play. Here guests might be transported into a three dimensional cartoon and meet one-on-one with Mickey Mouse. They will stroll through Minnie's house, bounce off the walls at Goofy's house, climb around Donald's boat or zip through the Toontown countryside on a whimsical roller coaster.
  • Adventureland Concept - Adventureland is a thrilling journey to exotic regions of exploration, adventure and discovery. Here guests will leave the safe haven of a North African Bazaar and venture into a wild untamed world or take a roller coaster ride through a dark jungle filled with mysterious surprises [dinosaur-themed outdoor coaster]. They can explore an ancient dinosaur archeological site[like AK's dig], voyage to a whole new world aboard a soaring magic carpet[the MK's spinner] or experience a live show featuring the music and characters from Disney classics such as the "The Lion King."[the only Adventureland feature that survived this plan]
  • Frontierland Concept - Frontierland is a walk right into the American Old West of the 1880s. Here park guests explore a frontier outpost at Fort Comstock[as in Paris]. They might also take a frightfully funny trip through a haunted mansion[Phantom Manor], shoot the rapids on a river raft ride[rapids ride around Chimney Rock], or experience for themselves just how tough it is to be a bug in a one-of-a-kind show [as in DCA, not a fan of its placement in Frontierland].
  • Tomorrowland Concept - Tomorrowland is a world of the future, filled with sci-fi fantasies and soaring space adventures. Here guests will journey to infinity and beyond as they join Buzz Lightyear to save the universe from the evil Emperor Zurg [astroblasters, made it to actual version], or blast off on a high-speed journey into outer space[a space version of RocknRollercoaster], and pilot their own spinning spacecraft[Orbitron]. They might also take a leisurely drive through the landscape of tomorrow [Autopia] and frolic in a futuristic water fountain.
These pieces of art show the park described above - you can pick out all the elements from Frontierland's rafting ride & Phantom Manor to Toontown to Adventureland's Jungle Dino Coaster & Lion King theater.
358655

358656

Now that the budgeteered 2005 HKDL is coming into its own with all its additions & improvements, it's fun to think about which you'd prefer. The 1999 version, with much more to do and signature E-ticket experiences at the outset, surely would have had garnered a lot more attendance & satisfaction in the park's first decade.
 
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Robbiem

Well-Known Member
Nice documentary.

I like the What Ifs and Woulda, Couldas of theme parks, so a part of HKDL history that interests me is the 1999 Press Release which described a much more filled-out park than what was built:

  • Main Street USA Concept - Main Street USA serves as the dramatic entryway to the park. Here guests will immediately take a step back in time to Main Street USA which will capture the excitement, friendliness and energy of a community gathering place. Designed after an old-fashioned small town, Main Street includes shops and restaurants and serves as the stage for live entertainment and parades as well as special events celebrating the local culture.
  • Fantasyland Concept - Fantasyland is the magical home of Disney animated characters and stories. Here guests can fly to Neverland with Peter Pan [the classic ride], take a spin in a teacup, play in the undersea world with the Little Mermaid[the suspended darkride pre-viz'd on youtube], and even climb aboard colorfully decorated horses on an old fashioned carousel.
  • Toontown Concept - Toontown is a wacky upside-down world where the beloved Disney characters live and play. Here guests might be transported into a three dimensional cartoon and meet one-on-one with Mickey Mouse. They will stroll through Minnie's house, bounce off the walls at Goofy's house, climb around Donald's boat or zip through the Toontown countryside on a whimsical roller coaster.
  • Adventureland Concept - Adventureland is a thrilling journey to exotic regions of exploration, adventure and discovery. Here guests will leave the safe haven of a North African Bazaar and venture into a wild untamed world or take a roller coaster ride through a dark jungle filled with mysterious surprises [dinosaur-themed outdoor coaster]. They can explore an ancient dinosaur archeological site[like AK's dig], voyage to a whole new world aboard a soaring magic carpet[the MK's spinner] or experience a live show featuring the music and characters from Disney classics such as the "The Lion King."[the only Adventureland feature that survived this plan]
  • Frontierland Concept - Frontierland is a walk right into the American Old West of the 1880s. Here park guests explore a frontier outpost at Fort Comstock[as in Paris]. They might also take a frightfully funny trip through a haunted mansion[Phantom Manor], shoot the rapids on a river raft ride[rapids ride around Chimney Rock], or experience for themselves just how tough it is to be a bug in a one-of-a-kind show [as in DCA, not a fan of its placement in Frontierland].
  • Tomorrowland Concept - Tomorrowland is a world of the future, filled with sci-fi fantasies and soaring space adventures. Here guests will journey to infinity and beyond as they join Buzz Lightyear to save the universe from the evil Emperor Zurg [astroblasters, made it to actual version], or blast off on a high-speed journey into outer space[a space version of RocknRollercoaster], and pilot their own spinning spacecraft[Orbitron]. They might also take a leisurely drive through the landscape of tomorrow [Autopia] and frolic in a futuristic water fountain.
These pieces of art show the park described above - you can pick out all the elements from Frontierland's rafting ride & Phantom Manor to Toontown to Adventureland's Jungle Dino Coaster & Lion King theater.
View attachment 358655

View attachment 358656

Now that the budgeteered 2005 HKDL is coming into its own with all its additions & improvements, it's fun to think about which you'd prefer. The 1999 version, with much more to do and signature E-ticket experiences at the outset, surely would have had garnered a lot more attendance & satisfaction in the park's first decade.
Really interesting article, it also mentions that there were planned to be four hotels and a downstyle shopping dining complex at opening I wonder what themes were planned? Was the sleeping beauty castle me tioned the one as builtor the one from Paris? I wonder what the plans were for the north lantau tourist area, so many questions on what might have been!
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Really interesting article, it also mentions that there were planned to be four hotels and a downstyle shopping dining complex at opening I wonder what themes were planned? Was the sleeping beauty castle me tioned the one as builtor the one from Paris? I wonder what the plans were for the north lantau tourist area, so many questions on what might have been!
The one in the art above looks like Anaheim's, but they conceptualized numerous variations for HK, such as:
358740

or

358741
 

Jones14

Well-Known Member
Based on what I've seen, HKDL more than holds up well in comparisons to SHDL... even with the existing castle.
Agreed. Hong Kong’s attraction lineup, layout, and overall feel is better than Shanghai’s. Sure, there’s no Pirates, but they’ve got Mystic Manor, and Big Grizzly seems to be a stronger attraction than TRON if we’re doing one to one comparisons.
 

jaxonp

Well-Known Member
HKDL is definitely a better park than SDL. I did both parks back to back last year expecting to be blown away by Shanghai and underwhelmed by Hong Kong. It was the other way around. After Pirates & Tron, there isn't much to do at SDL. The park is massive, the layout is terrible and the park guests are the worst anywhere. RUDE PEOPLE. HKDL on the other hand is a beautiful, small park, that has wonderful cast members and great park guests.

I'm not sure what the difference between mainland vs HK Chinese are but you can see it in how they act. Shanghai guests cut in line, push to get in from of you, smoke in line and do not care for anyone but themselves. HK is more of what you'd expect from WDW or DL.

HKDL mountains are such an incredible backdrop. No park on the planet can compete with this and gives it this magic that cannot be described. The downside of this park is that it also doesn't have much to do and can be done, easily, in one day.

Shanghai wasn't well thought out. I can see outside power lines and highways from most areas of the park. The immersion here is weak and I've never seen so much concrete.
 
HKDL is definitely a better park than SDL. I did both parks back to back last year expecting to be blown away by Shanghai and underwhelmed by Hong Kong. It was the other way around. After Pirates & Tron, there isn't much to do at SDL.
SDL also has Soarin', an updated Peter Pan's Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. While not as appealing for international guests as WDW has these rides as well (and DL has 2/3) these are major ride differentiators for the Chinese audience.

I have not been to SDL yet but I can see why it is flashy enough to draw the mainland China audience. Just hope HKDL can turn things around soon. Right now HKDL definitely has more exciting upcoming announcements as SDL only has Zootopia while HKDL is going to get two major additions in 2021 (Frozen) and 2023 (Marvel e-ticket). The castle upgrade is huge too but that's just playing catch up.

Does anyone know the details of this non-compete clause between HKDL and SDL? How long of an exclusivity does one park get over another for an attraction (ie: how long will SDL have to wait before getting its own Arendelle attractions) or is it actually exclusive indefinitely?
 
Revenue is up but the park is still posting a loss:

I think even the gloomiest forecasts show that HKDL will see an increase in attendance and revenue with all its expansions. The question is will it generate enough profit and tourism for HDKL and the HK government (who owns 53% of the park) to make them believe it was worth it all in the end.

The video mentions that they expected 10 million visitors per year to HKDL after its initial expansions, a number they were still millions short of even at the best of times in the pre-SHDL era.

If reality is the darkest timeline and the park continues to operate at a loss we can potentially see budget cuts to the park in terms of staffing and maintenance in the best case scenario. In a not-as-gloomy negative outlook that the park is just breaking even or generating only a slight profit then perhaps we won't see a big investment to expand the park in a long time (and say goodbye to the potential of a 2nd gate). The ideal is if HKDL starts pulling in profits and 10+ million visitors annually and then the discussion of the 2nd gate gets on the table.
 

jaxonp

Well-Known Member
Revenue is up but the park is still posting a loss:

I think even the gloomiest forecasts show that HKDL will see an increase in attendance and revenue with all its expansions. The question is will it generate enough profit and tourism for HDKL and the HK government (who owns 53% of the park) to make them believe it was worth it all in the end.

The video mentions that they expected 10 million visitors per year to HKDL after its initial expansions, a number they were still millions short of even at the best of times in the pre-SHDL era.

If reality is the darkest timeline and the park continues to operate at a loss we can potentially see budget cuts to the park in terms of staffing and maintenance in the best case scenario. In a not-as-gloomy negative outlook that the park is just breaking even or generating only a slight profit then perhaps we won't see a big investment to expand the park in a long time (and say goodbye to the potential of a 2nd gate). The ideal is if HKDL starts pulling in profits and 10+ million visitors annually and then the discussion of the 2nd gate gets on the table.
I thought the second gate budget was completely shelved in favor of adding to HKDL with a DCA 2.0 style makeover. See the problem is that there isn’t enough to do there. It’s a beautiful place but you can blow through all the attractions by 1pm. What keeps you busy the rest of the day? None of the attractions hardly have waits!

Shanghai has the same problem in terms of things to do but it can get very very busy there. .....and I’m not really sure Shanghai is the reason to blame for the slightly lower attendance at HK. Underinvestment seems to play a bigger roll here. As does the Chinese government making it harder for Chinese to come. That said, the high speed train from HK to Shenzhen to Guangzhou has recently made travel to and from the mainland easier. So we could see more mainland Chinese coming. China is vast and Shanghai is far away for much of the country while HKDL can be reached in a few hours for over 400 million people.

Even Shanghai should have more guests than it’s has... its metro is nearly the size of America. Perspective.
 
I thought the second gate budget was completely shelved in favor of adding to HKDL with a DCA 2.0 style makeover. See the problem is that there isn’t enough to do there. It’s a beautiful place but you can blow through all the attractions by 1pm. What keeps you busy the rest of the day? None of the attractions hardly have waits!
As far as I know money for a second gate was not shelved in favor of adding to HKDL. I think the additions came on its own as a necessity. Land for a second gate has always sat around, but HKDL is prioritizing adding on to its current crop of offerings (with Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story lands being major additions prior to the Marvel, Castle, Frozen additions). Plus they still had that expansion pad where the Frozen land is going. I figured that would be filled out prior to the second gate opening up.

Undoubtedly the lack of things to do at HKDL is an issue, which is why I do feel a second gate would be a big deal for the park as it would encourage visitors to stay at least one more extra day.

Shanghai most likely has hurt HKDL based on trends (granted with the understanding that correlation does not imply causation). Take a look at the below link:

We can see that attendance for HKDL has been rising over the years only to see a drop in 2015 and 2016 (the latter year being the year SHDL opened). In fact, since the opening of SHDL it never even managed to surpass 2012's attendance numbers. SHDL on the other hand saw over 11 million attendees its first year.

I would agree that it's not the only reason as HKDL didn't even reach its goal of 10 million visitors even before the opening of the Shanghai Park. Underinvestment has always been an issue since the park's inception and hurt it tremendously out of the gate. Just imagine today's park but minus Small World (2008), Toy Story Land (2011), Grizzly Gulch (2012), Mystic Point (2013) and Iron Man Experience (2017)... That was what HKDL opened with. HKDL would've been much healthier if they made the big investments it needed years ago. It's likely that with the rising attendance numbers with the peak at 2014 that the investments during 2011 - 2013 were starting to pay off.

I do agree though that HKDL could benefit a lot if the Chinese government would loosen up its regulations and make it easier for the Chinese to travel to Hong Kong. The whole two systems of government will continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future.

I do agree Shanghai should be pulling in more numbers due to the amount of people in the region, but I remember reading an article before that talked about how Chinese spend less on amusement parks in general compared with the U.S. populace. Disney even admitted they don't plan to make back their SHDL investment that soon as their primary goal right now is to strengthen the brand in the region.
 

lazyboy97o

Well-Known Member
Does anyone know the details of this non-compete clause between HKDL and SDL? How long of an exclusivity does one park get over another for an attraction (ie: how long will SDL have to wait before getting its own Arendelle attractions) or is it actually exclusive indefinitely?
There is no blanket exclusivity. It is on a per project basis and it is surprising that Toy Story Land has not further eroded Disney’s standing with the Government.

This is just curiosity, but what would happen if the HKDL expansion doesn't work out? Would Disney close/sell the park or just leave it alone for many years without any more expansions? I truly want the park to do well so I hope people show up once the work is complete.
The partial ownership deals in China (and formerly Paris) ensure that Disney makes money through licensing and operating fees. Hongkong International Theme Parks making money is a bigger concern for the Government and more gravy for Disney (not to suggest that Disney doesn’t love gravy). Euro Disney SCA was a financial mess for years and Disney held out.
 

Asa

New Member
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and the High Speed Rail opening in the last quarter of last year should help greatly with the park attendances. A lot of people on the west side of the Pearl River are visiting Hong Kong since the bridge opened.

It is hard to say what would happen to the second gate if 10 million visitors figure is not reached by 2025. But in terms of financing I always believe WDC plans to float Hong Kong International Theme Park Ltd on the HK stock exchange, in order to raise the capital necessary for the second gate. This is also what the Oriental Land Company did (floating the company on the Tokyo Stock Exchange) to raise capital for the building of DisneySea if I am not mistaken.

There is no way WDC can buy and take complete control of Hong Kong International Theme Park Ltd from HK govt. HK govt wants to remain the shareholder in the business because they invested much more money than they originally wanted to. They will not let go now. They have huge reserves and don't need WDC's money.
 

AndyS2992

Well-Known Member
If Hong Kong Disneyland built Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron as well as a second park I feel it would be successful as it would have the upper hand of classic Disney rides not at Shanghai as well as having the big Shanghai draws and a second park. Why go to Shanghai’s one park with not many rides when you can go to the two park resort. Kinda like Disneyland’s one park vs Disney World’s 6 in the 90s. Still, I think opening Hong Kong Disneyland when Shanghai was always on the cards was a dumb idea.
 
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